CLECKHEATON RUFC are hoping for a day of celebration tomorrow, as they host Bradford & Bingley in North One East for the first time in nearly four years.

The local rivals faced off at Moorend in September 2018 in an early season clash, and were due to play there again at the end of March 2020.

But the then recently-started coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that, and the next 18 months of amateur rugby union, and the fixture list dictated that this season’s clash at Moorend would take place towards the back end of the campaign.

A win over their rock-bottom visitors tomorrow would keep the hosts on track for promotion too.

Cleckheaton chairman Neil Gillan said: “We’ve obviously played Bradford & Bingley at their place since, but yes, our last home game against them was in September 2018.

“Tomorrow’s a big day for us off the field too, as we’ve got 125 people booked in for our end of season tour lunch/dinner ahead of the game.

“We should have had one before our game with the Bees on March 28, 2020, but the pandemic prevented the match and the tour.

“So in a way we’re picking up from where we left off two years ago.

“We went to Latvia at the end of the 2019 season, and we’re going off on tour to Malta in May, for our first one since.”

A rugby union restructure means Cleckheaton have a great chance of promotion.

The league above them, the 14-team North Premier, is set to be split into a 12-team North East Premier and a 12-team North West Premier.

That means this season’s top five in North One East and top five in North One West should go up, and Cleck currently sit fifth in the former, 10 points above sixth-placed Scarborough.

That is partly down to their excellent winter form, with Gillan saying: “We’ve only lost once since the start of December, and that was narrowly to (current leaders) Ilkley.

“We’ve beaten other sides in the new year up at the top with us, like Old Brodleians and Driffield, and done that with some good rugby.

“The team has come together well, especially given we’ve had a couple of injuries that we thought would set us back.

“(Prop) Andy Piper broke his arm for example, but Will Denham has stepped up from the seconds in his place and done really well.”

Tomorrow’s opponents Bradford & Bingley are stuck on minus three points for the season, with their squad decimated by post-lockdown departures.

Gillan said: “The Bees haven’t had the best year, and I feel for them, as they’ve fallen on hard times.

“But we’re not complacent, and we feel they will pick up a win or two before the end of the season, so we have to make sure that’s not against us this weekend.

“We’ve been very lucky with the lockdown, as it’s affected some teams a lot more than us.

“We only really lost Tom Austin and Joey Carley, who moved away, so we’re very grateful for that lack of disruption.”

In Yorkshire One tomorrow, Bradford Salem host Dinnington, where there is another derby in Yorkshire Two, as Keighley entertain Old Grovians.

Elsewhere in Yorkshire Two, Baildon welcome Ripon, while Wibsey are due to visit West Park Leeds in Yorkshire Three.